No, chips didn't just come from a packet in the frozen foods section. Julie Bindel tracks down the humble beginnings of 10 of our favourite foods
Fish and chips
Fish and chips were the meal of the industrial working class in the 19th century but the British weren't the first to sample the fish supper. Chips or 'fries' originally came from France with Thomas Jefferson introducing 'potatoes, fried in the French manner' to North America in the 1700s. Deep-fried fish came to northern Europe with the Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain in the 17th century. But since then we've definitely done our bit. The record for the largest number of portions sold in one day by an independent fish and chip shop is over 4,000. Plenty of vinegar on mine please!
Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding
In 1747 Hannah Glasse, who lived near Yorkshire, wrote a book called 'Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple'. Glasse had invented what was called at the time, Dripping Pudding. The modern day Yorkshire is still a firm favourite - Nigella even dribbles hers with cream and syrup (not to be served with the roast beef).
On June 19, 1889, a pizza maker known as Raffaele Esposito invented the modern pizza by adding tomatoes, cheese and basil to the regular dough, naming it Pizza Margherita in honour of Queen Margharita of Savoy. The ones with chicken tikka or pineapple topping are not the fault of the Italians.
According to one claim, Charlie Nagreen served the world's first hamburger at the Seymour Fair of 1885 by squashing a meatball between slices of bread to make it portable. However, Louis Lassen, owner of a diner in New Haven claimed that in 1900 he was asked for a quick meal that could be 'eaten on the run'. Lassen, the story goes, hurriedly sandwiched a grilled beef patty between two slices of bread and the customer went away happy.
Fanny Cradock invented the prawn cocktail in the 1960s. It was she who discovered that mixing tomato ketchup with mayonnaise made a pinkish, tangy sauce. And presumably that perching a fan of lemon on the side of a Babycham glass was the height of sophistication.
The trifle, a word derived from the French word 'truffle', was invented during the Renaissance era. Apparently, the British invented trifle as a way to use up dried cake, by soaking it in sherry and adding jams. The drier the cake, the more booze it soaks up. So, then, do you.
Mahmut Aygün invented the modern kebab, also known as a Doner. He died in 2008, almost 40 years after providing the perfect fodder with which to soak up copious amounts of alcohol after a night on the tiles. Legend has it that Aygün was serving customers at his stall when it dawned on him that kebab meat could be served differently. "I thought how much easier it would be if they could take their food with them," he's reported to have said.
During the Roman times, the many fast days, including the entire 40 days during Lent, forbade the eating of meat. Consequently, special fish pies would be baked in which the mixture of fish and seafood was cooked with rosewater, spices, wine and sugar. The pies always were topped with a pastry lid and often covered in icing. Try a more modern fish pie version - any time of the year.
A recipe for Cornish pasty was discovered inside an old audit book and dated 1510 - 236 years after the first recorded Cornish recipe for pasties. The recipe includes the ingredients of flour, pepper and venison from the Mount Edgecumbe estate in Devon which was used in the pasties and calculates the cost and labour involved in making them. Do not dare put them on a plate with red wine sauce though - a real Cornish pasty is eaten on the move.
Black Forest gateaux
The earliest Black Forest gateaux, made from cherries, cream and Kirschwasser was not in the form of a cake but a dessert. The confectioner Josef Keller claims to have invented Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in its present form in 1915 in the then prominent Café Agner in Bad Godes. But this has often been disputed. With its naff reputation today, we'll bet few are queuing up to take credit anymore.
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